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Fantasy Football Sleeper: Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals
It's hard to not like the value you can find at quarterback in this year's fantasy football crop. When targeting a second passer, a familiar veteran should be high on your list. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer has a new home and arguably the brightest single-year outlook he has had in at least a half-dozen seasons.
Palmer's 11th professional season of football has him entering 2013 as the starter for his third different ball club. He threw for 4,018 yards last year with the Oakland Raiders, which was the third highest single-season total of his career. His touchdown-to-interception ratio was the best since 2009 and the third highest of his career.
The supporting cast Oakland boasted was sketchy, at best, most of the year, because of underachieving play and injuries. Running back Darren McFadden seemed poised for a monster season but once again couldn't stay on the field. Their offensive line struggled at times, and Palmer still managed a quality season as he carried the Raiders on his back.
Oakland wanted to go in a different direction, so Palmer was shipped off to the quarterback-starved Cardinals. Head coach Bruce Arians has found great success in his pro coaching career with quarterbacks, most recently rookie Andrew Luck, of the Indianapolis Colts, and the Pittsburgh Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger. New offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin has followed Arians around the NFL for the better part of the last decade, and his expertise is in shoring up the offensive line.
Speaking of which, Arizona's OL is a work-in-progress, despite a top-10 selection of guard Jonathan Cooper. Palmer is adept at unloading the ball when he feels an inescapable rush. The Cards have bolstered their running game with Rashard Mendenhall and feature the ever-dangerous Larry Fitzgerald out wide. Veteran Andre Roberts, 2012 first-round pick Michael Floyd, and rookie speedster Ryan Swope should round out Palmer's primary receiving targets.
Let's assume Mendy isn't capable of getting it done, the Cardinals added running backs Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington in the NFL Draft. Ryan Williams (knee, shoulder) is returning from injuries and also could give a boost to the ground game.
Even though they play in a tough defensive division, the Cardinals face suspect pass defenses of the Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles and Tennessee Titans in 2013.
Palmer is a fantastic No. 2 fantasy quarterback that you can rely on if you lose your starter or need a matchup play. He can be had in the latter third of most standard drafts. Consider him a bargain after the 13th round in standard 12-team, 16-round formats. I am expecting 4,025 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and 14 interceptions from him.
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